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Is “distinction” really outdated? Questioning the meaning of the omnivorization of musical taste in contemporary France

Abstract : The question addressed by this article concerns the extent to which the extensive eclecticism observed today in many cultural domains constitutes a major refutation of Bourdieu's theory of distinction. Based on recent French data on music listening habits, this article examines Bourdieu's theoretical legacy by means of a multi-correspondence analysis of people's listening habits in various musical genres. The analysis basically invalidates Bourdieu's strict homology hypothesis and corroborates Peterson's omnivore/univore thesis as far as it is not possible to establish an unequivocal correspondence between any musical genre and a social group or to confirm that upper-class and high-status groups tend to distinguish themselves by the variety of their musical consumption. In that sense, as omnivorousness tends to become a distinctive criteria, Bourdieu's thesis seems only partially challenged by this new theoretical framework, as far as cultural consumption remains socially stratified. Finally, two competing hypotheses may be proposed on the meaning of the predominantly omnivorous behavior of the upper classes and highest social status groups. First, the omnivorous musical consumer can be seen as an outcome of social mobility and school massification which is introducing people from increasingly heterogeneous social and cultural backgrounds into elites. Second, eclecticism can be understood as a generic disposition towards culture characterized by tolerance and openness to diversity which tends to embody the modern quintessence of distinction.
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Submitted on : Thursday, March 3, 2022 - 12:29:03 PM
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yannick Lemel, Philippe Coulangeon. Is “distinction” really outdated? Questioning the meaning of the omnivorization of musical taste in contemporary France. Poetics, Elsevier, 2007. ⟨hal-03595718⟩

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